Bulls-Hawks: Who has edge in Play-In matchup?

Bulls-Hawks: Who has edge in Play-In matchup? originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

The Chicago Bulls face the Atlanta Hawks at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday night at the United Center.

The winner advances to a Friday road game against either Philadelphia or Miami for the right to face the Boston Celtics in the first round. The loser's season is over.

The Bulls won two of three regular-season meetings, although Atlanta prevailed in the last matchup on April 1 also at the United Center. They didn't have Trae Young for that game and will on Wednesday.

For the Bulls, Ayo Dosunmu and Andre Drummond, both of whom had large roles in the season series, are questionable with injuries. They're obviously already without Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, Patrick Williams, Julian Phillips and now Onuralp Bitim.

The Hawks are without Saddiq Bey, Onyeka Okongwu and Jalen Johnson.

Here are some matchup comparisons.


The Hawks finished 12th with an offensive rating of 116.4. The Bulls finished 19th with an offensive rating of 114.

The Hawks like to play fast, put defenses in tons of pick-and-roll actions, shoot a lot of 3-pointers and crash the offensive rebounds. They ranked sixth in made 3-pointers per game and fourth in second-chance points.

Between Young, Dejounte Murray and Bogdan Bogdanović, the Hawks have three capable pick-and-roll options with strong shooting range. This is why Dosunmu playing would be big for the Bulls; it would give them another capable point-of-attack defender and maximize Alex Caruso's versatility.

For the Bulls, Coby White will need to supplement DeMar DeRozan's expected scoring. DeRozan shot 30 free throws in the three-game season series, so expect him to draw plenty of attention.

Edge: Hawks


Neither team is strong defensively.

The Bulls finished 22nd with a defensive rating of 115.7, while the Hawks allowed 118.4 points per 100 possessions to rank 27th.

With Bey out, De'Andre Hunter will draw the primary assignment on DeRozan. He'll need to stay out of foul trouble.

Young is a minus defender. Look for the Bulls to place him in as many actions as possible to try to wear him down and either get him in foul trouble or burn energy to offset his offensive prowess.

If Dosunmu can play, Caruso can guard Young, Murry or even Bogdanović at different stretches. Not having Dosunmu would impact the Bulls because the areas the Hawks are strong in offensively---pick-and-roll, launching 3-pointers---have been issues all season for the Bulls.

Edge: Bulls


The Bulls have homecourt advantage, although the Hawks will have confidence from winning in Chicago on April 1 without Young.

The Bulls also are one of the NBA's best teams in clutch games, defined as being within five points or less and 5 minutes or less to play. They led the league in such victories with 27 and finished second to the defending NBA champion Denver Nuggets in net rating while playing the most clutch minutes.

The Hawks finished 21-26 in clutch games. So if this game is close, the statistics favor the Bulls.

The Hawks are undefeated in two seasons of the Play-In Tournament, advancing with a road victory in Miami last season.

Both teams are banged up and missing critical players.

Edge: Bulls, slightly

This game likely will be a close one. Both teams are prone to wild swings of sublime play followed by head-scratching minutes. Both teams have struggled to find consistency all season, which is why this is the play-in game featuring the nine and 10 seeds.

The Hawks' strengths in the Bulls' weaknesses will be exacerbated if Drummond and/or Dosunmu can't go. But if this is a close game, the Bulls have the edge.

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